Den of Thieves Movie Review
Long and not nearly as intelligent or deep as it clearly wants to be, the wannabe “crime drama” Den of Thieves offers an elaborate and entertaining bank heist sequence but not much else. It’s Heat, but without the actors, writing or action that made Heat work so well.
Gerard Butler stars as the least protagonist-y protagonist put to film, an obnoxious, drunk, scumbag of a police officer who is apparently very good at what he does—he just doesn’t show it in this two-hour and 20 minute opus from first-time director Christian Gudegast, the writer of A Man Apart and the Butler-starring London Has Fallen.
Cut 40 minutes from the movie and Den of Thieves could have been a mean, lean crime thriller, but instead Gudegast, who also wrote the film, lets his film drag for the first hour and a half. Despite this considerable time, character development is almost nonexistent—even though there are plenty of scenes intended to at least flesh out Butler’s character. Every scene featuring Butler is painfully hard to watch, and they aren’t even the actor’s fault. The other characters aren’t much better, but at least the screenplay doesn’t try and fail with them.
Basically, as a drama, Den of Thieves simply doesn’t work.
When the action ratchets up, Den of Thieves improves significantly as the last 45 minutes of the film is essentially one long bank heist/action sequence. Even then, Gudegast makes two fatal mistakes: one, he makes the false assumption that the audience cares about anyone in the movie; and two, by having the police carelessly initiate a major gunfight with hundreds of civilians around, he blurs the difference between the good guys from the bad guys you can’t tell the difference.
Nonetheless, the final act of Den of Thieves is well staged and significantly more entertaining than the nothingness leading up to it. While that may not be enough to make the movie worth watching, it at least saves it from being a complete robbery of time.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.